I remember watching a woman preach, practical and modest in the way I understood but also carefully dissecting a complicated bit of Scripture. I looked around like, Oh, my word! These folks are taking her seriously and no one is going up in flames, and I am so happy my parents aren't visiting this weekend. Her spiritual authority rubbed against two decades of internalized patriarchy, and I couldn't decide if she was my enemy or my hero. A while later, as I was coming into some sense of my own mind and my internal wiring was threatening to become a problem in both personality and function, it was Anne Lamott who shocked me anew. Sadly, in the few years that community-associated MRSA has been affecting people many doctors have failed to diagnose the problem, as this new phenomenon was not previously part of medical school instruction. Training for doctors in how to recognise the signs of MRSA has recently been implemented, with guidelines being updated every time the bacteria mutate and change their mode of attack. Blame for MRSA infection is being apportioned to the government of the day or the cleanliness of a hospital, and although there may be culpability in each case, the main problem lies with the bacteria. Through the process of 'survival of the fittest' evolution has become the main culprit, although mankind has inadvertently helped the bacteria to mutate. Self-medication is one of the many mistakes being perpetuated. In some developing areas of the world, including India, Africa and South America, a person can walk into a pharmacy and choose which antibiotic to purchase. A recent survey of 500 people in one African country showed that four out of five people self-medicated, and only went to a doctor for a diagnosis after repeated antibiotics had not worked. According to scientific reports, another cause of multi-drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is 'bad decision making': from the feeding of antibiotics to agricultural animals as a prophylactic to keep them disease-free when they are forced to live in cramped, unsanitary conditions, to the over- prescribing of antibiotics by doctors because it hastens the patient from the surgery, and the folly in prescribing the same antibiotics for humans and animals. These and other reasons for antibiotic resistance are identified in Part Three, along with details of the organisations set up to deal with these important issues. I have a great interest in the causes of disease, possibly because I grew up with an awareness of infection. The latest report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), published recently in Health Affairs, estimates national health expenditures will reach 20 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2027, and it included a series of colorful charts demonstrating theories on how and why costs have risen. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and even the New York Post were quick to pick up on this headline and used even more flair to highlight that America is going bankrupt and that our health system is to blame for it. The problem is that the report and various media outlets failed to note an important point regarding their latest catastrophic projections: We are not in an immediate crisis, rather we are nearing our fifth decade of a growing problem. It would be easy to think that innovation has driven these increased costs. However, pharmaceutical and medical device costs account for approximately 4 percent of the increased health care cost each year.

The cost to develop and produce these novel discoveries is only one of the drivers of the rise in costs. Health care in the United States now resembles a business venture and, like all successful business ventures, to function it must acquire administrative staff, legal counselors, information and technology specialists, marketing personnel, and an abundance of ancillary staff. This organizational compound, while good for overseers, adds on remarkable nonmedical expenses to the total cost of care, thus increasing health care spending. Therefore, it is not surprising that the highest-paid entities in health care today are not physicians, but corporate executives and high-level administrators. Health care commercial greed is best reflected when evaluating the acquisition of drug rights, which is separate from the research and development of pharmaceuticals. A close friend, more aware than I was of my own shifting North Star, put her article Traveling Mercies in my hands, and the lights flickered on, then blazed to life. Not once, not even close to once, had I ever heard a woman - author - Christian - talk like that. And it wasn't just her saucy conversion story where she compared Jesus to a stray cat who wouldn't leave her alone until she finally cursed and said, I quit. All right. You can come in, but she offered such naked truth telling, so little self-protection, zero rules followed. Anne existed in a world I'd never even heard of. I had no access to a community that allowed this type of faith. I didn't know a woman could write like that, think like that, much less succeed like that. I had no idea who was giving her this permission. Why wasn't she getting in trouble? My maternal grandmother died of post-operative septicaemia when I was a toddler, so I never knew her other than through photographs and stories related to me by my mother. My grandmother did not die from MRSA, as methicillin had not been introduced, but penicillin had failed to save her from a hospital-acquired infection. My mother had many operations in her lifetime and was proud of her scars. A scar is the outward, visible sign that a deep cut to the skin has healed. But after one operation, I remember my mother's wound did not heal, remaining open and messy for many weeks.

Eventually she was readmitted to hospital for surgery to remove a surgical swab that had been accidentally left inside her. It is the body's natural urge to heal, by joining together the two edges of a wound and growing new skin. When a wound does not heal within a few weeks of surgery, the indications are that something is preventing healing from taking place. Today there are untold numbers of people with wounds that will not heal. Many have been treated for an MRSA bloodstream infection, and when no longer critically ill they are sent home. There are numerous medications that small start-up companies buy the marketing rights to, and then increase the price for profit. These small companies do not have the burden of significant R&D debt as the original company did upon inventing the drugs. recover the cost of acquiring the drug's rights and to make revenue, the small companies will increase the cost of the acquired medication. Sometimes the price rise is subtle over a period, but other times the price is increased abruptly, leaving many patients unable to afford the medication and facing the choice of having to forgo treatment. Take the case of EpiPen(R) (epinephrine), a lifesaving medicine used to treat severe allergic reactions. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. , purchased the product's marketing rights from Merck in 2007. At the time of sale EpiPen(R) cost approximately $57 and its annual sales were $200 million; today the same drug costs roughly $415 for a pack of two EpiPens,(R) with a short lifespan of one year until it needs to be replaced. The annual sale of this lifesaving drug today is more than $1 billion. More recently, it was the women of the world who shifted my perspective, specifically the women of Ethiopia--more to the point, my adopted son Ben's mom. Sentayu is a marvel. After Ben and Remy were with us a couple of years, Brandon went back to Ethiopia to work with our partners there, and I told him, We have to find Ben's mom. Pause. And by we I mean you.

It's just one woman in a country. Go with God. And he did. And we discovered a story full of abuse and betrayal and pain and loss, as all adoption stories begin with sorrow. But this smart, resourceful survivor, who once lived at the mercy of dishonorable men, went on to graduate from a yearlong women's empowerment program, started her own coffee and tea shop, hired two girls off the streets as her first employees, remarried a good, good man, had two more beautiful sons, and bought a house. These patients are not being kept in hospital until they are cured. In UK hospitals there is a chronic shortage of beds and the only antibiotics that are powerful enough to tackle MRSA are so toxic that they can only be given, intravenously, for a short period of time. Even when the patient's life has been saved the infection is not always eradicated but there are no more effective antibiotics to take care of the residual MRSA. So patients are simply returned home and told to cope with the situation as best they can. Currently, there is no system for documenting how many people with MRSA-infected wounds are living in the community. What complicates matters even further is that post-operative patients are being sent home after three days, and it can take four, five or six days for an infection to manifest itself. Hospitals are places we have to go to, but by their very nature can be breeding grounds for MRSA. We need to do everything we can to protect ourselves and I have written this article as a practical self-help guide as well as a textarticle on a serious subject. Aromatherapy vs MRSA is organised into three parts, allowing readers to access information of interest to them. Although structured, there is no running order and readers can dip into whichever section appeals. 1 Did I mention the 2018 reported total income for the Merck CEO was $20,934,504? 2 This is only one example of corporate greed taking with giving little in return. This obvious materialism regarding a single lifesaving medication raises questions about moral ethics and fair practice regarding drug acquisitions and pricing in general. But the greed is not limited to the pharmaceutical companies;

the hospital administrators are reaping the same seven- or eight-digit compensation packages. Consider this: the CEO for General Electric, a Fortune 500 company with about 300,000 employees, earned roughly $21 million in 2018. Interestingly, Jim Skogsbergh of Advocate Aurora Health, which has 70,000 employees, made $11. 7 million in 2017--up by 42 percent from the previous year. In the health insurance industry, the discrepancy is even more marked: Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini made $18. As we sat in Sentayu's shop and home last year, Ben tucked into the crook of her arm, I thought, Women are the baddest of badasses, and there is nothing they cannot overcome and accomplish. She did this. With every odd against her, she chased down a dream and rebuilt her entire life out of grit, and now she is a business owner, homeowner, and proud wife and mom. I want to hoist her on my shoulders and carry her around the public square. Women have continued to stretch and challenge me, teach and change me. Their voices from the margins have been particularly thought provoking, offering perspectives I've never before considered. Their experiences have given shape to my own inner tensions and language to my big questions. My worldview has expanded, and I've blown straight through whatever tidy category I once assumed I'd occupy, to both the great delight and despair of a watching world. But here is the magical place I landed: I finally clearly know who I am and how I was made, how I thrive and what I'm here for, what I believe and what I care about, and I'm not afraid to walk in that, even when it doesn't fit the mold. Each article stands alone, as do each of the appendices, and the article is designed more for reference than light reading. Part One considers the unfolding story of MRSA and its incredible ability to outwit antibiotics, and since microbiology testing has been crucial to our current knowledge of the antibacterial properties of essential oils, I invited a professor of microbiology to write a brief introduction to the processes used. There are two articles contributed by academic experts in their field, and they are included for readers with an appetite to know more. Also in Part One is an overview of the international reach and zoonotic status of the superbug, with MRSA being documented in six out of the seven continents of the world. The superbug is affecting pets, horses and agricultural animals in several countries and has been detected on the meat we consume.